The "Nightingale of India," Lata Mangeshkar, passed away on Feb 6 at Mumbai's Breach Candy Hospital, where she was being treated for Covid-19 and pneumonia. After almost a month of being in the hospital, the legendary singer's condition had changed from stable to critical. She was cremated in Mumbai with full state honours and her funeral was attended by many people, including PM Narendra Modi and Bollywood actors Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Shraddha Kapoor.
Stars pay tribute to the legendary singer
Crowds gathered outside Mangeshkar's home, from where her coffin was taken to a park where it was publicly cremated. PM Modi was among those who laid flowers on the pyre as hundreds gathered to say a final farewell.
Aamir, along with his daughter Ira, and Ranbir were pictured paying their respects to the iconic singer.
Balan was also present to honour Mangeshkar.
Shraddha, who is related to Mangeshkar, was at the funeral and also visited the hospital on Feb 6.
The government has announced two days of mourning across the country and the national flag will be flown at half-mast throughout India.
Shah Rukh Khan also paid tribute to the legendary singer by reciting a dua [prayer] but when he lowered his mask to blow air on her — a customary act known as phoonkna — some people claimed he spit on her.
Arun Yadav, state-in-charge of BJP Haryana IT, posted a video on Twitter asking whether the actor had spit.
BJP Uttar Pradesh Spokesperson Prashant Umrao repeated the claim, saying "Shahrukh is Spitting!"
Former CBI director M Nageswara Rao tagged the actor in a tweet asking if he'd spit and said being a public figure he is "required to give public clarification immediately."
This is not the first time the My Name is Khan actor has been targeted solely on the basis of his religion — right before the big release of his film Pathan, "Boycott Shah Rukh Khan" started trending on Indian social media. Some Twitterati claimed that the Bollywood star had hurt some religious sentiments over and over again. They shared images, news clippings and incidents from the past where Khan was seen speaking in support of Pakistani cricket players, speaking of intolerance in India and his photos with PM Imran Khan, branding him as a "Pakistan lover" and a terrorist.
In Oct 2021, Shah Rukh's son Aryan Khan was taken into custody by India's Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) alleged possession of banned drugs and substance abuse on board a cruise ship and denied bail, dragging the case on for 28 days before Aryan was finally released from jail. Netizens claimed that this was purely a bigoted reaction and was treated with measures too extreme for "alleged" drug possession.
The actor's respectful gesture at Mangeshkar's funeral, however, won hearts all over the nation and people were quick to rush to his defence. Congress leader Supriya Shrinate responded and accused Yadav of spreading hatred. "You aren’t just a bigot but pure evil to twist a dua said in reverence of the departed soul to spread hatred," she wrote.
Chandra Kumar Bose, a sidelined BJP leader and grandnephew of Indian nationalist Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, tweeted that "This is the real heritage & culture of India. Certain religious bigots cannot digest it!"
Bollywood film producer, Priya Gupta, simply wrote "This is called dua," as a shut up call to all those maligning the respectful gesture.
This user condemned Islamophobia and said, "In fact you all are spitting venom out there. So stop!"
Following the backlash, Yadav tweeted that he had "just asked a question" and that "opponents of PM Modi did not appreciate his work in national interest".
It is absolutely absurd that some people will resort to twisting acts of respect to create controversy when there is none, even in such a sensitive time. This is a time to honour a legend, not ask foolish and pointed questions, trying to get people riled up. No one with an ounce of grey matter would spit during a funeral and for this BJP leader to even suggest it is beyond ridiculous.
Rather than spread bigotry with foolish questions, Mangeshkar's funeral and the two national days of mourning in India should be spent remembering the legendary singer and her major contributions to music in the subcontinent.
Mangeshkar was one of India's most beloved singers, her voice was the soundtrack to hundreds of Bollywood films. She'd sung in Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and other regional languages. She was honoured with the Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke Award as well as several National and Filmfare Awards. Her extraordinary career spanned more than half a century and she recorded thousands of songs in 36 languages.
She is beloved in India as well as Pakistan and many other countries and she deserves far more respect than having foolish people on Twitter trying to spin controversy out of her well-wishers saying their final farewells at her funeral.